Workers were asked, then ignored
Hey it’s dress-down Friday so let’s talk about employee morale.
It’s just fine here at Just Wright Citrus, thanks for asking.
At the county, not so sure.
The county conducted an employee survey last fall and the results were so underwhelming, the administrator kept it under wraps until Commissioner Holly Davis raised a stink about it.
The county contracted with the University of Central Florida to conduct strategic planning. An employee work survey was included as part of that, though for the life of me I can’t think of a single reason why those two things would be connected. But they were.
These were anonymous surveys and voluntary, sent out to employees via email over a two-week period. It was one of those surveys where you “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree” with statements.
Participation was so-so — 418 employees, about half the county workforce. UCF offered to extend the survey time from two weeks to get more participation, but the county declined because it didn’t think that would make much difference.
“The post-survey communication and implementation will be vital to future employee participation,” UCF said in the Oct. 22 report.
In other words, the real story would come in the follow up when department directors discuss the survey results among themselves and the consultant, and then take that conversation to the workers to see what the responses mean.
UCF conducted the survey and gave the raw results to County Administrator Randy Oliver in October. Oliver shared them with department directors. Then…nothing.
For reasons unrelated to the survey, UCF and the county ended the contract and UCF returned the county’s money. The county is now contracting with Florida State University to facilitate the strategic planning, which is a totally different animal that I’ll cover another time.
So the county surveyed employees on their work opinions and never told them the results. Boy, that is just bad in a number of ways. If the county truly has a morale problem among its employees, conducting a work survey and hoarding the results is the opposite of how to gain their trust and confidence.
Not only were employees kept in the dark about the survey’s results, so were commissioners and the public. Davis has asked for this report for weeks and only just received it from Oliver very recently. That in itself is odd. Oliver routinely provides information to commissioners whether it’s completed or not, and he normally gives the info requested by one to them all.
For Oliver to give the survey results to Davis and not the other commissioners is out of character. Just saying.
I asked Oliver about all this. He said because the survey was incomplete in that UCF didn’t hang around long enough to complete the process, he didn’t see any reason to share it. He said he showed it to the department directors because they’re closest to the employees and would know what to do with the info.
As for the results themselves, here are few:
— “Morale is high in Citrus County”: Strongly agree, 33%; strongly disagree, 36%
— “My salary is good compared to similar jobs/roles”: Agree 19%; disagree 63%
— “Executive leaders communicate an inspiring vision for Citrus County”: Agree 39%; disagree 31%
— “The Citrus County Board is well-informed about what we do”: Agree 27%, disagree 42%.
I realize that’s just a sample, but those responses are very telling. It says morale is so-so and most workers feel their pay is out of whack.
But did you catch responses to the second pair of statements I included? When a third of your employees feel the higher ups don’t communicate an “inspiring vision” for the county, that’s trouble. When more than a third think the county commission is clueless about their jobs, that’s worse.
Oliver said he’s coming to the board in a few weeks with recommendations for a salary study, but that doesn’t explain why he kept this survey under wraps and or why the county hasn’t done any formal follow up.
He did say one telling thing though regarding that leadership question. Yeah, employees could be talking about their immediate bosses or they could be talking about Oliver.
Or the commissioners themselves.
“The lack of constant harmony on the board,” he said, “isn’t helping.”
We hear that. Loud and clear.
P.S. That’s Larry Brock in the photo getting recognition at a recent county commission meeting. Larry’s last day on the job is a week from today. He’s been with the county for 34 years and a ton of people know him as the man who gets things done. I wish my friend a retirement as relaxing as mine.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.